The Lost Colonel - Poem by Ambrose Bierce
''Tis a woeful yarn,' said the sailor man bold
Who had sailed the northern-lakes
'No woefuler one has ever been told
Exceptin' them called 'fakes.''
'Go on, thou son of the wind and fog,
For I burn to know the worst!'
But his silent lip in a glass of grog
Was dreamily immersed.
Then he wiped it on his sleeve and said:
'It's never like that I drinks
But what of the gallant gent that's dead
I truly mournful thinks.
'He was a soldier chap-leastways
As 'Colonel' he was knew;
An' he hailed from some'rs where they raise
A grass that's heavenly blue.
'He sailed as a passenger aboard
The schooner 'Henery Jo.'
O wild the waves and galeses roared,
Like taggers in a show!
'But he sat at table that calm an' mild
As if he never had let
His sperit know that the waves was wild
An' everlastin' wet!-
'Jest set with a bottle afore his nose,
As was labeled 'Total Eclipse'
(The bottle was) an' he frequent rose
A glass o' the same to his lips.
'An' he says to me (for the steward slick
Of the 'Henery Jo' was I):
'This sailor life's the very old Nick
On the lakes it's powerful dry!'
'I says: 'Aye, aye, sir, it beats the Dutch.
I hopes you'll outlast the trip.'
But if I'd been him-an' I said as much
I'd 'a' took a faster ship.
'His laughture, loud an' long an' free,
Rang out o'er the tempest's roar.
'You're an elegant reasoner,' says he,
'But it's powerful dry ashore!''
'O mariner man, why pause and don
A look of so deep concern?
Have another glass-go on, go on,
For to know the worst I burn.'
'One day he was leanin' over the rail,
When his footing some way slipped,
An' (this is the woefulest part o' my tale),
He was accidental unshipped!
'The empty boats was overboard hove,
As he swum in the 'Henery's wake';
But 'fore we had 'bouted ship he had drove
From sight on the ragin' lake!'
'And so the poor gentleman was drowned
And now I'm apprised of the worst.'
'What! him? 'Twas an hour afore he was found
In the yawl-stone dead o' thirst!'
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